Human Potential and Workplace Wellbeing: Fran Dean-Bishop interviews Ana Melikian, Ph.D.

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“I'm pro-self-development work, and it's part of my focus. Yet, I think it is a very narrow view of human potential because human beings—we are also connecting beings. We thrive with connection. We can achieve much more together than we can do alone.”

– Ana Melikian

Are you rising to your full potential? 

We’ve all likely asked ourselves that question before, with varying results.

My background in psychotherapy and psychology led me to the term “Human Potential,” and as I traverse my career journey, I continue to learn more layers to what makes us fulfill that potential in and outside of the workplace. 

The answers look different for everyone, but there are a few key similarities we all need to excel in life and business. 

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Fran Dean-Bishop, an award-winning President and CEO for Aerobodies, Inc., and a renowned writer, speaker, coach, and tech innovator about my approach to unlocking human potential. 

We discuss: 

  • Understanding the three dimensions of human potential
  • The impact of burnout on human potential
  • Recognizing the signs and symptoms of burnout

Understanding human potential

Understanding human potential

As individuals, we have the power to focus on self-improvement, becoming more proactive and less reactive, and developing our self-leadership skills. I'm a supporter of self-development work, and it's part of my focus. 

However, I think stopping there is a narrow view of human potential. Humans are also connecting beings—we thrive on connection. We’re social animals who can achieve much more together than we can alone. If we learn to tap into the power of connections, groups, and communities, we can amplify our potential in significant ways. 

Furthermore, the systems where we interact and live, with all their complexities, systemic rules, and diversity, can help us unlock the exponential power we might not even know we have.

Accessing the potential of these three dimensions—inner, outer, and systems—allows us to transform problems into solutions and opportunities.

Figure 1: Frame of Reference to Unlock Human Potential. Let's consider the systems within which we live (represented by the ellipse in the image). In addition to self-development (represented by the stick figure), we leverage the power of community (represented by the connecting dots). We can unlock our human potential exponentially (represented by Hn).

The impact of burnout on human potential

The impact of burnout on human potential

What happens when we’re in a misaligned environment? Typically, we burn out quicker and more drastically. Naturally, the burnout state is not an ideal place to be if we’re striving to fulfill our potential. 

At the point of burnout, people either quiet-quit or decide to leave the organization, using any number of reasons—from mental health to physical health—reacting to the fact that they’re burnt out.

Burnout is an increasingly common issue across multiple industries and is beginning to affect company bottom lines—which means now they might pay proper attention to the problem—and workers of all kinds are grappling with what it means to “show up” at work.

It’s a challenge to perform at our best when we feel like we’re barely keeping our heads above the water. 

What if we were proactive in preventing burnout instead of treating it?

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of burnout

There are ways to recognize the warning signs of impending burnout and get ahead of it in productive, effective measures—I use the Maslach Burnout Inventory to help teams, individuals, and organizations determine where they fall on the scale and what the next steps look like. 

Picture a vertical line representing energy levels. On the bottom of the line, we have exhaustion and depletions. On the top, we have flow and high performance—that’s where most people want to be.

Now, add a horizontal line to the graph. This line represents the sense of connection to one's purpose. On the right end of the line, there’s deep connection and fulfillment. On the left end, there's disconnection to the point of cynicism. 

People are in full burnout when they are depleted and disconnected—the lower left quadrant. 

It’s also important to note that many others are at high risk of burnout. Someone can be connected to their mission but feel exhausted and over-extended—think CEOs and other leaders—the lower right quadrant. Or someone can be connected to their mission and full of good intentions but feel cynical about their work—the disengaged quadrant.

Watching for these warning signs is one of the first proactive steps we can take to avoid burning out and instead rise to our full potential and enjoy the optimal engagement zone

Where do you think you fall on the burnout scale? How do you enable yourself to reach your full potential?

Be sure to check out my full episode with Fran for further insight into human potential and being proactive!